KUALA LUMPUR: A smile is all it takes to break the ice when making friends here, said British tourist Geoff Young.
“A smile is understood in all languages. The people here are so friendly and all I have to do is smile at them and their whole face brightens up!
“They warm up easily to tourists, especially when we say a word or two in Malay like selamat pagi or terima kasih,” said Young when met at the Kuala Lumpur Tourist Association's Deepavali and Hari Raya open house here yesterday.
About 200 tourists gathered at the open house to try their hand at making ketupat, lemang, kuih bahulu and even batik painting.
They were also treated to a sumptuous array of local food including rendang, chicken kurma, cakes and fruits while being entertained by ghazal and Indian musicians throughout the event, which was graced by Deputy Tourism Minister Datuk Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.
Young, 52, who is here on a business trip, even played the gambus (Malay traditional guitar) with the band and tried his hand at making ketupat.
“I love the rendang and they gave me the recipe so I’m going to try and make it when I’m back in England,” he said.
Canadian Linda Rodgers, 57, who teaches English in Bangkok, said she was impressed that the tourists were able to participate and make the local delicacies.
“It’s a wonderful experience and I’m able to do things interactively such as learning how to make ketupat,” said Rodgers.
Travel agent Morana Polovic from Slovenia said she looked forward to coming back for another visit.
“I’ve enjoyed my stay here very much,” said the 22-year-old.
Youssef Ben Bouhia, 27, from Morocco, said he was impressed with the cultural diversity and harmony in the country.
“I’ve been here less than 24 hours but I can see that Malaysia is a beautiful country where cultural tolerance between all the races is really appreciated,” he said.